The Sounds, Sights, Drama, Fear, Excitement of a Crossing! …

Brendon Reports from the Masai Mara Migration Photo Safari:

We set out to check a central area of the Masai Mara to see what action we could come across. The morning light was beautiful, with clouds scudding across an azure sky. When we spotted two lions we hurried to them and as we arrived a lioness climbed onto a termite mound. There she sat, relaxed and peering around and looking for all the world like a still from The Lion King, as she gave us all the time we needed to compose different shots.

The second lioness moved away, and although we followed her for a while she started to walk through a very rocky area where the vehicle could no longer follow.

We spotted some action in the distance – it was two male lions with a lioness. The female was about to come into oestrus but was not quite ready for any advances from her male companions. One of the males was very persistent, but she rebuffed him again and again with menacing growls and a swat across any area that she could reach. The interaction and photography were fabulous.

We remained with the lions until they went to sleep in a shady spot.

After we checked all the potential wildebeest river crossing points to the north of the camp without seeing any real action or gatherings we decided to check the southern area of the reserve. There we found a number of herds of wildebeest and zebra. One of the herds was fairly close to a river, but not close enough to start a crossing. We retreated to a lovely shady tree for lunch. From there we kept a constant eye on the herd to see if there was any movement.

Then another herd arrived to join the first group, swelling the numbers considerably. Together they approached the water’s edge, and the wait began for the first brave animal to leap in for the swim. But no! They stood around, and then slowly started to move. They moved to a different very quiet spot. And within moments the first wildebeest was in the water. The others followed immediately, and the turmoil, bleating, splashing, dust, spraying water, mud, jostling, – all created an unforgettable scene. The sounds! The sights! The drama! The terror! And the sigh of relief when they reached the far bank singly or in groups … wow! This simply has to be experienced by anyone interested in wildlife, and especially wildlife photography! A must! Put it on your bucket list!

As the original animals started their crossing, other herds saw and heard the commotion and immediately rushed to the scene to join in! It was incredible, and the action unfolded in front of us minute by exciting, dramatic minute! More than incredible. It was breathtaking – chaos, drama.

And of course the crocodiles moved in for a feast! Bellows joined the cacophony as wildebeest and zebra fell victim to those ever ready jaws. Red blood joined the reddish ochre dust in the river, and was swept away in moments – taking a message downstream for more crocodiles to join the banquet!

We sat there, photographing every dramatic, exciting, terrifying, horrific, wonderful moment! Nature at its most raw! We only realised afterward that we had scarcely breathed, and huge sighs could be heard as people filled their lungs.

After all that adrenaline we needed to wind down and we moved on to more peaceful scenes like some giraffe on an open plain in lovely afternoon light. Of course there were Plains animals everywhere.

Having been told that some lions were not far away we started to move towards them. We found a cheetah along the way, but she was very lethargic, having eaten just hours before, as manifested by her very fat, very full stomach. But as she was our first cheetah sighting, even though she wasn’t doing much, we stopped for photographs.

When we reached the pride of lions we found ions, lionesses and about five little Cubs. As it was very late afternoon we couldn’t remain with the lions for longer than a few minutes. Besides, a huge thunderstorm gathered and started to head in our direction, pursued by Armageddon-like sounds of the thunder!

 

Tomorrow we would like to check the rivers quickly and then to catch up with that pride of lions again …